I’ll grant you that it’s hard, very hard, right now to pay attention to economic fundamentals. There’s the upcoming OPEC decision on oil production cuts, President Trump’s first overseas tour, the continuing circus in Washington and more.
But this week also brings the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s May 2-3 meeting and the release on Friday of the second estimate of first quarter U.S. GDP growth.
The Fed minutes have the potential to change the consensus on when the central bank will next raise interest rates. If you’ll remember back about two weeks, the Wall Street consensus was that an increase was pretty much guaranteed at the Fed’s June 14 meeting. Then we had a bout of volatility in the market and some mixed economic data and the odds of a June 14 move dropped back to 73.8% as of May 15. Since then the odds of a 25 basis point increase have begun creeping up again. Today the CME’s Fed Watch tool puts them at 78.5%. (The Fed Watch tool uses priced in the Fed Funds Futures market to calculate the odds of a Fed move that are being price in by the market.)
On Friday, the second estimate of U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter could reverse some of the disappointment over the first read, which put growth at just 0.7% for the quarter. The market essentially looked past that estimate, arguing that the first quarter was always weak (because of the way government statisticians calculated their seasonal adjustment to the data) and that growth always rebounded in the rest of the year. Right now economists surveyed by Briefing.com project a slight increase to 0.8% growth for the quarter. Not a significant change in absolute terms but the bump would be a positive for market sentiment on U.S. economic growth.